Saturday, September 1, 2018

Car Finance explained - A Knowledge base

explaining car finance
Car finance can be a pretty damn confusing field. It can seem like a jungle of meaningless acronyms and abbreviations. Don’t worry though. I’m here to provide everyone who doesn’t know their HP from their BCH with a ray of hope. Here’s my guide to the main types of car finance, their benefits and their drawbacks!

Hire Purchase

Hire Purchase is a pretty old-fashioned form of car finance. It’s pretty much the standard type of finance that people turn to when it comes to getting their hands on a car. With hire purchase, you pay an initial deposit and then pay back regular monthly payments for a given period, until the complete value of the car has been paid off. Interest will also be added to the payments.

My good pal, Wikipedia, sums up Hire Purchase pretty well:

“An arrangement whereby a customer agrees to a contract to acquire an asset by paying an initial installment (e.g. 40% of the total) and repays the balance of the price of the asset plus interest over a period of time.”

This type of car finance is probably the most popular when it comes to offering a route to owning a car, even if you don’t have all the money upfront.


● Provides a fairly manageable process to eventually own a car
● Relatively easy to get approved for– provided you have a pretty good credit rating
● You’ll eventually become the legal owner of a car, to do what you want with


● Depreciation means that your car will probably be worth significantly less at the end of a HP agreement than it was when you first started paying for it.
● If you have a bad credit history, getting a HP agreement can be pretty difficult
● The finance company can repossess the car without a court order until you’ve paid a third of its value off

Personal Contract Purchase

This type of car finance is pretty much what would happen if hire purchase and personal contract hire were to have a baby., a pretty good, independent authority when it comes to finance matters, describes PCP as “ of the more complex financial products available to help you buy a car, but it can be broken down into three main parts: 1. The deposit (usually around 10% of the car's price); 2. The amount your borrow; 3. The balloon payment (a balancing payment you pay IF you want to own the car).”

A cross between buying and leasing, this type of finance gives you the best of both worlds but it comes with a sting in the tail– the huge balloon payment you need to make at the end if you want to buy the car. This is notoriously big, so if you plan on buying the car at the end of the contract, you better start saving now.


● It combines the best parts of buying with the best parts of leasing
● It gives you the possibility of becoming an owner of a car
● Fixed monthly payments


● It can work out significantly more expensive than traditional types of leasing
● The balloon payment can be pretty hefty at the end of the agreement if you want to buy
● You’ll have to agree to a mileage restriction. If you go over this, you’ll be charged for each mile you exceed.

Personal Contract Hire

You’ve probably come across a personal contract hire in some form and you don’t even realise. Put simply, personal contract hire is the main type of leasing contract available in the UK. It’s a type of lease that’s aimed at people who use a car solely for their own, personal use – as opposed to business use. describe PCH says that: “PCH effectively involves renting a vehicle from a car finance company. With personal contract hire, you lease the car over the agreed contract period, and pay an initial deposit - normally the equivalent of three, six, nine, or 12 months worth of payments.”

A personal contract hire lease gives you the benefit of not having to worry about the crippling depreciation that affects all new cars, as well as giving you much lower monthly payments than if you were leasing.

It’s essentially because with a contract hire lease, you’re only paying off the value that the car is expected to lose whilst you’re leasing it – not the entire amount like you would with a hire purchase contract.


● Lower monthly repayments compared to hire purchase and other forms of car finance
● Fixed payments for the entire lease
● You won’t have to worry about how much the car might depreciate in value whilst you’ve got it.


● Expensive to get out of early
● If you don’t keep up on repayments your car can be repossessed
● You won’t actually be the owner of the car – just the registered keeper

Business Contract Hire

This type of leasing is essentially the same as personal contract hire, except for one seemingly small, but in reality, pretty big, difference – this type of contract hire is designed specifically for businesses! It’s available to any type of business in the UK– whether you’re a small sole trader or partnership, or a massive limited company.

Will Craig, CEO of LeaseFetcher, a car lease comparison site that lets you compare millions of leasing deals, told me: “You’ll often find that the majority of business contract hire agreements have slightly more competitive terms than personal contract hire agreements. This is because the BCH market tends to be more of a lucrative cash-cow for finance companies. For example, you’ll probably get a slightly lower monthly rate on a specific car on BHC than PCH– but we’re talking about savings in the tens of pounds, as opposed to savings in the hundreds or thousands.”

In its own right though, business contract hire, and leasing in general, has some major benefits for companies though – the major one being that with leasing, companies don’t need to expend any capital. The fact that monthly repayments are fixed means that businesses can also benefit from an improved cash flow.


● Your business won’t face the risk of losing money through depreciation, because you’ll never own the car
● You won’t have any capital expenditure
● Fixed, monthly payments improve the cash flow of your business


● You’ll still have to face those pesky mileage limits, as well as maintenance schedules
● Getting out of the contract early can be expensive
● You’ll need to get fully comprehensive insurance out on the car

About the Author: Tom Butcher is a freelance writer who recently escaped the world of print journalism. He covers a wide range of topics, including finance, business and motoring.

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